By Jimmy Warden
A lot of folks in the world give the advice to “be grateful for what you have”. Something that I’ve noticed, however, is the fact that this concept is something that often gets lost in day to day living. We get overwhelmed with stress from areas of our lives like work, relationships, and time management. That stress pours into our lives like a stream that overflows after a monsoon. It gets so overwhelming that we begin to complain about all of the reasons why we have stress and we become very ungrateful for our current circumstances, very quickly. One question I’d like to pose is, have you ever tried to be grateful for the fact you have these stressors in your life?
Before I dive into my thoughts on the power of gratitude, I’d like to clear the air. I am not trying to invalidate anyone’s struggles, rather I am trying to open their eyes to a different way of viewing their struggles. Sure, there are a lot of people in this world that have it much more difficult than I have it, and I am well aware of that. Despite this harsh truth, I am still a firm believer that trying to approach struggle with gratitude can help shift the negativity that results from being a person that admires their problems rather than faces them.
Let’s first remember that the world we are currently living in is a sheer miracle. Is it flawed in many ways? Absolutely. But the fact that Earth is even a living, breathing, and functioning planet that inhabits billions of people is mind boggling to say the least. The fact that this planet has been sustained for hundreds of millions of years is also mind boggling. Not to mention, the fact that the past few hundred years have been an absolute whirlwind of progression after progression. From the invention of the automobile to the current technology that we have today, the list can can go on and on. Not only in the field of technology, but also in the fields of agriculture, education, business, and yes, even law and politics.
Another absolute miracle is the fact that if you’re reading this post, you were conceived, and born into this world. In a TedX talk done by Mel Robbins in 2011, she cited that scientists have stated that the odds of being born into this world as a living, breathing human is about one in 400 trillion. Yes, one in 400 trillion. That means that we have better chances of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning (twice) than being a person on Earth. Life itself is something that we should all be grateful for. The fact that we wake up each day is a damn miracle in disguise. The sad part is, Robbins also cited in her talk that one in three Americans is unsatisfied with their current life. If that statistic still holds true to this day, that is over 100 million people.
Now, let’s take a moment to think about the things in our lives that are causing us this stress and this negative outlook on life. Is it work? Is it your relationship with your loved ones? Is it your health? Is it all the above? Now is the time to really sit back and reflect about what it is that is causing you these challenges emotions that are making you wish your circumstances were different. Now is also the time to think about how you’ve approached these circumstances. Have you just wallowed in self-pity and tell yourself that things are not changeable? Have you just accepted that you don’t believe that you’re strong enough to change the difficulties in your life? If you have answered yes to either of those questions, it might be time to reframe how you’re thinking about your personal life.
Let’s start with the fact you have a pulse. Be grateful for that. Everyone that is living will one day die, so try to enjoy the moments in your life that bring you happiness and leave you feeling satisfied. Next, if you are employed and have a job, be grateful for that. With the unemployment rate being what it has been the past several years, having a paying job is something to be grateful for. If you genuinely enjoy that job, then you are truly winning in life considering how much of our waking hours we spend at our occupations. If you have family members, spouses, friends, and other loved ones that are all truly healthy without anything detrimental occurring in their health, that is another reason for gratitude. I understand that I am bringing some “simple” ideas forward regarding gratitude, but these are the areas of our lives that we take for granted, far too often. If we take the time to really sit down and think about all of the things that we’re grateful for, the list will be endless.
A way that you could start practicing gratitude is starting a gratitude journal. Something simple, where you write down the first three things that arise in your mind that you are grateful for. Doesn’t matter what those things are, just write them down, and give a reason or two about why you’re grateful for it. This practice of gratitude will help open doors to seeing gratitude in other areas of your life because you have primed your brain in the direction of gratitude. To start becoming grateful for the challenges that you are facing in your life, a question to meditate on could be, “How is this challenging helping me become a better version of myself?”. Quite often, challenges in our lives are disguised as roadblocks or bumps in the road, but this question can help bring a greater understanding that they’re really a resistance band that will help us catapult passed our past self and into a new way of being.
The final point that I will bring up about why it’s important to be “grateful for what you have” is that if you currently aren’t, will you be grateful for what you have in the future? That’s something that we don’t often think about either. We think that if we had this or that, we’ll become grateful because we’ll have the status or the possession we’ve been yearning for, but in reality, reaching those checkpoints won’t bring us gratitude. In fact, they’ll just be another thing we’ll become ungrateful for because we’ll just be desiring something more once the initial appreciation dissolves away.
To conclude, try to find some quiet time today, tomorrow, or sometime in the near future when your schedule permits to think about what you’re grateful for. It just might be a stepping stone to changing your life’s perspective about how good you really have it.